At Cuneo & Leonetti, we understand that medical malpractice isn’t just a legal issue, but a betrayal of trust that can have long-lasting consequences on your health and well-being. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys are committed to seeking justice for victims of negligent or incompetent medical care. With years of experience in complex healthcare litigation, we have built a solid reputation for aggressively representing our clients and securing favorable outcomes. If you or a loved one has been adversely affected by medical malpractice, trust Cuneo & Leonetti to guide you through the legal maze and fight for the compensation and justice you deserve.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a legal concept that arises when a healthcare provider, such as a doctor, nurse, or hospital, fails to provide the standard of care that a competent healthcare provider would have provided under similar circumstances, leading to harm or injury to the patient. This could include but is not limited to, misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical errors, medication errors, or inappropriate treatment.
In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff (injured party) typically must prove that:
- There was a duty of care owed to them by the healthcare provider
- The healthcare provider breached that duty of care by failing to meet the established standard of care
- The breach directly resulted in injury or harm to the patient
- The injury led to specific damages, such as pain, suffering, additional medical costs, lost wages, etc
Most personal injury cases rely solely on a person’s general duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent harm; however, medical providers have a special duty of care requiring them to perform at the industry-accepted standard of care when treating patients. Proving a medical malpractice case requires first showing that a doctor/patient relationship was in place at the time the injury occurred and that the doctor failed to treat you at the industry-accepted standard of care.
Examples of Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice claims can occur in various settings and may involve multiple types of healthcare professionals. Below are some generic examples of medical malpractice claims that are often encountered:
- Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis: A healthcare provider may be held liable if their failure to accurately diagnose a patient leads to incorrect treatment, delays in treatment, or no treatment at all, causing the patient’s condition to worsen.
- Surgical Errors: This could include operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical instruments inside the body, or causing excessive damage during the surgery.
- Childbirth Injuries: Errors during childbirth can result in injury to the baby or mother. These could include improper use of forceps, failure to detect fetal distress, or failure to perform a necessary C-section.
- Medication Errors: Prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage can result in severe injury or even death.
- Anesthesia Errors: Improper administration of anesthesia can lead to a range of complications including brain damage and death.
- Failure to Treat or Incorrect Treatment: If a healthcare provider chooses an inappropriate method of treatment or fails to administer treatment altogether, it could be considered malpractice.
- Lack of Informed Consent: Failing to inform a patient of all the risks and options involved in a procedure or treatment can also be grounds for a claim.
- Hospital Negligence: This could involve inadequate staffing, lack of proper training, or other systemic issues that lead to patient harm.
- Emergency Room Errors: Given the fast-paced nature of emergency rooms, errors can easily occur, such as misdiagnosis, failing to properly assess a patient’s condition, or overlooking critical symptoms.
- Radiology Errors: Mistakes in reading X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can result in misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose severe conditions.
Negligent Actions vs Negligent Omissions
Most medical malpractice claims fall under one of two categories: negligent actions and negligent omissions. While both are forms of negligence, the evidence needed to prove one or the other is substantially different. It helps to understand what each category of medical malpractice means for a successful claim.
Medical procedures, surgeries, and medications can be life-saving when used properly. Unfortunately, they can also cause significant harm when improperly or unnecessarily applied. Some examples of negligent actions in medical malpractice claims include the following:
- Performing medical procedures and/or prescribing medications to a patient after incorrectly diagnosing them, therefore needlessly applying incorrect and unnecessary medical treatment
- Surgical errors such as wrong-part/wrong-site/wrong patient surgery
- Prescribing the wrong medication, a contraindicated medication, or a medication to a patient with a history of allergic reaction to the medication
Negligent medical malpractice harms the patient in two ways: they receive unnecessary and sometimes irreversible medical procedures that may cause harm, and at the same time, they aren’t receiving treatment for their true medical condition or injury. In the event of a medication error, our Cherry Hill medication error lawyers offer specialized legal advice to help you receive fair compensation.
Some medical malpractice cases result from negligent omissions or inaction rather than negligent actions. When a medical professional fails to properly diagnose and treat a patient, they may suffer harm due to the negligent omission or failure to properly treat a medical condition or injury. Examples include:
- Failure to promptly diagnose and treat a medical condition
- Failure to order the correct imaging and/or lab tests
- Failure to recognize symptoms of a medical condition or injury
- Failure to obtain a complete medical history
- Failure to refer a patient to the proper specialist
A doctor’s negligent inaction can cause just as much harm to a patient as negligent actions. For example, failing to diagnose cancer in its early stages may result in advanced disease with serious or fatal metastases.
How Can a Cherry Hill Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?
Medical malpractice is a highly specialized area of legal knowledge requiring a strong medical background as well as legal background and access to medical experts and resources. By hiring a medical malpractice attorney in Cherry Hill, you’ll have the following advantages in your malpractice claim:
- Skilled, experienced attorneys with strong local resources within the Cherry Hill medical community
- An experienced lawyer in your corner to determine the correct liable party in your case and document evidence of liability by showing that the attorney did not meet the medical community’s standard of care in your case
- Strong litigators with years of experience proving medical malpractice in New Jersey courtrooms
- Experienced attorneys and medical experts to carefully calculate your damages to maximize the amount of your compensation
As Cherry Hill medical malpractice attorneys, we can maximize the compensation in your claim and negotiate from a position of strength with the malpractice insurance company to gain an ample settlement for your damages. In the event that the insurance company wrongfully denies or undervalues your claim, your attorney is more than ready to file a lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations and argue aggressively on your behalf in court to secure a positive jury verdict and award for damages.
What to Do After a Medical Malpractice Injury in New Jersey
Discovering that the medical professionals you trusted with your health and life made an error that caused you harm can be traumatic, especially when it caused serious or irreparable damage. You may feel helpless in the hands of your providers and uncertain of your next steps. However, by taking immediate action you can protect your health and your financial future. When you or a loved one experiences an injury due to medical malpractice, the following steps can help streamline your malpractice claim and maximize your chances for full compensation for your damages:
- Obtain a copy of your medical records from the facility where the malpractice occurred
- See a trusted physician as soon as possible after the injury and bring your records with you to the appointment
- Undergo a complete medical evaluation and ask the doctor for a detailed report of your injuries, the doctor’s recommended course of treatment, and your prognosis
- Save all medical records, bills, and invoices
- Call the medical malpractice lawyers in Cherry Hill at the law firm of Cuneo & Leonetti before speaking to insurance representatives
Being a victim of medical malpractice is a serious injustice as well as a risk to your health and well-being. A successful malpractice claim can help you achieve a sense of justice and accountability as well as financial compensation for damages.
Affidavit of Merit in a Medical Malpractice Claim
An Affidavit of Merit is a key legal requirement in medical malpractice claims in New Jersey. The Affidavit of Merit serves to establish the legitimacy of a medical malpractice claim at the outset of a lawsuit. In essence, it’s a document that says there is a reasonable likelihood that the healthcare provider’s conduct fell below the acceptable standard of care, leading to the plaintiff’s injury.
Here are some key points about a Cherry Hill Affidavit of Merit:
- Qualified Expert: The affidavit must be prepared by a healthcare provider who is board-certified or board-eligible in the same specialty as the defendant and has the qualifications to testify as an expert witness.
- Timing: The Affidavit of Merit usually must be filed within 60 days after the defendant’s answer to the complaint has been served. Extensions may be granted, but they are generally limited.
- Contents: The healthcare provider providing the affidavit must certify that they have reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records and that there is a reasonable probability that the standard of care was violated, leading to injury or harm.
- Legal Requirement: Failure to file a proper Affidavit of Merit within the given time frame can result in the dismissal of the lawsuit.
- Case Evaluation: The affidavit is often one of the first steps in the legal process and may prompt the defendant to offer a settlement, though this is not guaranteed.
- Specificity: The affidavit typically needs to be specific enough to establish not only that there was a breach of the standard of care but also that the breach was a proximate cause of the harm suffered.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Cherry Hill is generally two (2) years. This means that you have two years from the date the malpractice incident occurred or from the date you reasonably should have discovered the malpractice to file a lawsuit. Missing this deadline will likely result in your case being dismissed, making it crucial to act quickly.
Some special circumstances that count as exceptions include:
- Discovery Rule: If the injury or malpractice was not immediately apparent, the “discovery rule” may apply, allowing the two-year period to begin from the date you discovered or should have discovered the malpractice.
- Minors: For minors under the age of 18, the statute of limitations generally starts to run on their 18th birthday, giving them until they turn 20 to file a claim. However, this rule may have exceptions based on the specific circumstances of the case.
- Mental Incapacity: If a person is mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations may be tolled (paused) until the disability is removed.
- Fraudulent Concealment: If a healthcare provider fraudulently conceals evidence of malpractice, the statute of limitations may be extended.
- Death: If the victim of medical malpractice dies, a wrongful death claim may also be applicable, which may have a different statute of limitations.
What Compensation Can I Get For a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical malpractice can cause serious, life-altering injuries. In some cases, the victim may have a permanent disability, a shortened life expectancy, or lost organs or limbs. Even less serious medical malpractice injuries may result in expensive medical treatments and lost wages during recovery. A successful medical malpractice claim can bring compensation for damages such as the following:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses for ongoing care and corrective procedures
- Lost wages
- Future income loss
- Diminished earning capacity for malpractice-related disability
- Pain and suffering
- Compensation for other intangible damages like limb loss, disfigurement, organ damage or unnecessary organ loss, and emotional distress
While a successful claim for damages can’t erase pain or restore a lost or damaged organ or limb, it can open doors to the best possible medical treatment and relieve undue financial burdens on the victim and their family.
Contact Our Cherry Hill Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice in Cherry Hill or the surrounding areas, don’t wait to take action. The legal intricacies and time-sensitive nature of medical malpractice claims necessitate prompt and professional legal guidance. At Cuneo & Leonetti, our experienced medical malpractice attorneys are committed to providing you with the diligent representation you need to navigate the complexities of New Jersey law and pursue the justice and compensation you deserve. Time is of the essence due to the statute of limitations, so contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us today, and one of our team members will get back to you promptly. Trust a Cherry Hill personal injury lawyer at Cuneo & Leonetti to be your advocates in this challenging time—because your health and well-being are too important to leave to chance.